Across the nation, an estimated 30- 40 million people avoid going to the dentist. Many have been through traumatic experiences or high levels of pain that caused anxiety. Others have a fear of needles or experience pain from sensitivity. Still others lack the time. Whatever the deterrent, there are too many people who do not make routine visits to the dentist. Even painful teeth or gums cannot sway them to make the trip. Poor oral hygiene leads to other heath issues and compromises your overall well being. Modern dentistry has opened new methods to treating people with these issues.
Sedation dentists are trained to use medication to put the patient at ease. This anesthesia is used during and/or prior to the procedure and will put the patient in a sleep-like state to alleviate their fear. Other reasons sedation is suggested are in cases where an extensive amount of time is needed for the procedure or in individuals with difficulty controlling their movement. The sedatives used have been tested and run through rigorous studies to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Sedation dentists are also very aware of their possible medication interactions.
Medications are most often in an oral form, different types are used in different cases depending on the specific patient’s needs. If an oral sedative is chosen for the patient, they are usually administered at the office an hour to thirty minutes before the procedure takes place. This allows the medication to take effect. Oral sedatives can also be given the night before in people with severe anxiety. Oral medication does not contain pain relief, thus local anesthetic will also be given in the usual injection form. IV sedatives do not have pain relief effects either. In the case of IV sedation you will also receive the pain medication injection.
Inhalants are breathed in through a mask before a procedure. A common form is nitrous oxide often referred to as laughing gas. Use of a local anesthetic is also required. This inhalant puts the person in a highly relaxed conscious state called anxiolysis or light sedation. Moderate sedation is often induced with either an inhalant or IV. In a moderate sedation, or conscious sedation, the person is awake enough to respond to queries made by the dentist but is in extreme relaxation. Deep sedation may use a combination of medications. During this sedation a person will still respond but they may need assistance breathing if they cannot keep their own airways open.
General anesthesia is most often reserved for oral surgeries that require unconsciousness. The patient will be unaware of what is happening and will have assisted breathing. Local anesthetic is unnecessary in this case because of the patient’s complete unawareness.
If you have avoided the dentist for these reasons, it may be time to speak with a sedation dentist.